Gaja Lakshmi, one of the Ashta Lakshmi
|Sanskrit Transliteration||aṣṭa lakṣmī|
|Affiliation||forms of Lakshmi,
Ashta Lakshmi, also spelled as Ashtalakshmi (Sanskrit: अष्टलक्ष्मी, Aṣṭalakṣmī, lit. "eight Lakshmis"), are a group of eight Hindu goddesses, secondary manifestations of Shri-Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth, who preside over eight sources of wealth: "Wealth" in the context of Ashta-Lakshmi means prosperity, good health, knowledge, strength, progeny, and power. The Ashta Lakshmi are always depicted and worshipped in a group in temples.
Names and powers
The prayer Shri Ashta Lakshmi Stotram lists the Ashta Lakshmi as follows:
- Adi Lakshmi (Sanskrit: आदि लक्ष्मी, Ādi Lakṣmī, "Primeval Lakshmi") or Maha Lakshmi (Sanskrit: महा लक्ष्मी, Mahā Lakṣmī, "Great Lakshmi") : an ancient form of Lakshmi and incarnation of Lakshmi as daughter of the sage Bhrigu.
- Dhana Lakshmi (Sanskrit: धन लक्ष्मी, Dhana Lakṣmī, "Money Lakshmi"): for money and gold 
- Dhanya Lakshmi (Sanskrit: धान्य लक्ष्मी, Dhǎnya Lakṣmī, "Lakshmi as goddess of grain"): Giver of agricultural wealth.
- Gaja Lakshmi (Sanskrit: गज लक्ष्मी, Gaja Lakṣmī, "Elephant Lakshmi"): Giver of animal wealth, like cattle and elephants. Swami Chidananda interprets Gaja Lakshmi as giver of power of royalty. According to Hindu mythology, Gaja Lakshmi brought back the wealth lost by Indra (king of demi-gods) from the ocean. Vasudha Narayanan intrepret the name as "one who is worshipped by elephants".
- Santana Lakshmi (Sanskrit: सन्तान लक्ष्मी, Santāna Lakṣmī, "Progeny Lakshmi"): Bestower of offspring
- Veera Lakshmi (Sanskrit: वीर लक्ष्मी, vīra lakṣmī, "Valourous Lakshmi") or Dhairya Lakshmi (Sanskrit: धैर्य लक्ष्मी, Dhairya Lakṣmī, "Courage Lakshmi"): Bestower of valour in battles and courage and strength for overcoming difficulties in life.
- Vijaya Lakshmi (Sanskrit: विजय लक्ष्मी, Vijaya Lakṣmī, "Victorious Lakshmi") or Jaya Lakshmi (Sanskrit: जय लक्ष्मी, Jaya Lakṣmī, "Victorious Lakshmi"): Giver of victory, not only in battles but also in conquering hurdles in order to beget success.
- Vidya Lakshmi (Sanskrit: विद्या लक्ष्मी, Vidyā Lakṣmī, "Knowledge Lakshmi"): the bestower of knowledge of arts and sciences
In some Ashta Lakshmi lists, other forms of Lakshmi are included:
- Aishwarya Lakshmi (Sanskrit: ऐश्वर्य लक्ष्मी, "Prosperity Lakshmi") : Goddess of riches
- Saubhagya (Sanskrit: सौभग्या, "Giver of good Fortune") : Giver of prosperity in general.
- Rajya Lakshmi (Sanskrit: राज्य लक्ष्मी, Rājya Lakṣmī, "Royal Lakshmi"): "She who blesses rulers (with secular power)"
- Vara Lakshmi (Sanskrit: वर लक्ष्मी, Vara Lakṣmī, "Boon Lakshmi"): "The lady who bestows Beautiful Boons".
The Ashta Lakshmi are all depicted seated on a lotus.
- Adi Lakshmi : Four-armed, carries a lotus and a white flag, other two arms in Abhaya mudra and varada mudra.
- Aishwarya Lakshmi : Four-armed, in white garments, carries two lotuses, other two arms in abhaya mudra and varada mudra.
- Dhana Lakshmi : Six-armed, in red garments, carries chakra (discus), shankha (conch), kalasha (water pitcher with mango leaves and a coconut on it) or Amrita kumbha (a pitcher containing Amrita - elixir of life), bow-arrow, a lotus and an arm in abhaya mudra with gold coins falling from it.
- Dhanya Lakshmi : Eight-armed, in green garments, carries two lotuses, gada (mace), paddy crop, sugarcane, bananas, other two hands in abhaya mudra and varada mudra.
- Gaja Lakshmi : Four-armed, in red garments, carries two lotuses, other two arms in abhaya mudra and varada mudra, surrounded by two elephants bathing her with water pots.
- Santana Lakshmi : Six-armed, carries two kalashas (water pitcher with mango leaves and a coconut on it), sword, shield, a child on her lap, a hand in abhaya mudra and the other holding the child. The child holds a lotus.
- Veera Lakshmi : Eight-armed, in red garments, carries chakra, shankh, bow, arrow, trishul (or sword), a bundle of palm leaf scriptures, other two hands in abhaya mudra and varada mudra.
- Vijaya Lakshmi : Eight-armed, in red garments, carries chakra, shankh, sword, shield, lotus, pasha, other two hands in abhaya mudra and varada mudra.
Rise and worship
The rise of the Ashta Lakshmi is directly proportional to the rising popularity of Ashta Lakshmi Strotam. Around the 1970s, a leading Sri Vaishnava theologian, Sri U. Ve. Vidvan Mukkur Srinivasavaradacariyar Svamikal, published a poem called Ashta Lakshmi Strotam dedicated to the eight Lakshmis. Narayanan comments: “Although these attributes (which represent the wealths bestowed by the Ashta Lakshmi) of Sri (Lakshmi) can be found in traditional literature, [..] the emergence of these eight (Ashta Lakshmi goddesses) in precisely this combination is, as far as I can discern, new.”
The Ashta Lakshmi are now widely worshipped both by Sri Vaishnava and other Hindu communities in South India. Occasionally, the Ashta Lakshmi are depicted together in shrines or in "framing pictures" within an overall design and are worshipped by votaries of Lakshmi who worship her in her various manifestations. In addition to emergence of Ashta Lakshmi temples since the 1970s, traditional silver articles used in home worship as well as decorative jars ('Kumbha') now appear with the Ashta Lakshmi group molded on their sides. Books, popular prayers manuals, pamphlets sold outside temples in South India; ritual worship and "a burgeoning audiocassette market" are also popularizing these "new" eight forms of Lakshmi.
- Ashtalakshmi Temple, Besant Nagar, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India: The Ashta Lakshmi Kovil, built in 1974, is the first shrine dedicated exclusively to the Ashta Lakshmi where Lakshmi is given greater importance than Vishnu. It has eight small shrines arranged in clockwise direction, dedicated to the Ashta Lakshmi and then a ninth shrine dedicated to Vishnu and Lakshmi together, unlike the traditional separate shrines.
- Ashtalakshmi Temple, Vasavi Colony, Dilsukh Nagar, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India 
- Ashtalakshmi Temple, Sugar Land, Houston, Texas, USA 
- Ashtalakshmi Temple, North Hollywood, California, USA 
- At the entrance - leading from Vittavasal Street to Meenakshi Temple, Madhurai, a mandapam (Hall) called Ashta Lakshmi Mandapam is dedicated to the Ashta Lakshmi, the statues of which support the roof on either side.
- Parashakthi Temple, Pontiac, Michigan has the deities installed there.
Star of Lakshmi
- Vasudha Narayanan in: John Stratton Hawley, Donna Marie Wulff p.104
- Parashakthi temple, Michigan. "Ashta Lakshmi".
- Flipside of Hindu Symbolism (Sociological and Scientific Linkages in Hinduism) by M. K. V. Narayan; published 2007 by Fultus Corporation; 200 pages; ISBN 1-59682-117-5; p.93
- Swami Chidananda. "The Eightfold Lakshmi".
- Studies in Hindu and Buddhist Art By P. K. Mishra, p.34
- Vasudha Narayanan in: John Stratton Hawley, Donna Marie Wulff p.108
- Vasudha Narayanan in: John Stratton Hawley, Donna Marie Wulff p.105
- Vasudha Narayanan in: John Stratton Hawley, Donna Marie Wulff p.109 "The effect is to cast Vishnu as the consort of Lakshmi than the other way around, as has been traditional"
- Vasudha Narayanan in: John Stratton Hawley, Donna Marie Wulff pp.108-9
- "Ashtalakshmi Temple, Hyderabad". My city pedia.
- "Official website of Ashtalakshmi Temple, Houston". Ashtalakshmi Temple, Houston.
- "Official website of Ashtalakshmi Temple, North Hollywood".
- Our Deities - Ashta Lakshmi (and Durga Mahalakshmi) - OM Shakthi - Parashakthi Temple
- Weisstein, Eric W. "Star of Lakshmi." From MathWorld--A Wolfram Web Resource. http://mathworld.wolfram.com/StarofLakshmi.html
- Studies in Hindu and Buddhist Art By P. K. Mishra, Published 1999, Abhinav Publications,413 pages, ISBN 81-7017-368-X
- Vasudha Narayanan in Chapter ŚRĪ: Giver of Fortune, Bestower of Grace in book Devī: Goddesses of India By John Stratton Hawley, Donna Marie Wulff ; Published 1996; University of California Press ;373 pages ;ISBN 0-520-20058-6
- Translation of Ashta Lakshmi stotram
- Ashtalakshmi Kovil, Chennai